By on June 3, 2010

These cars may never go off the road, but it’s also beginning to look like their sales won’t go off the rails any time soon either. Kia’s Sportage was the big year-over-year loser last month, but it’s about to be replaced with an all-new model. The battle continues…

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36 Comments on “May Sales Analysis: Compact Crossovers...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    It is amazing that the Escape – which is a 10 year old design last updated 3 years ago – is the top selling model in this category. Must be doing something right…

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      It’s a pretty decent SUV, but IMO not nearly good enough to be such a strong seller. I don’t know if the Escape is a big rental fleet vehicle but it does seem to be pretty popular with government fleets and some law enforcement agencies, and I bet it gets pretty big discounts, so that might explain some of it. When the new Escape is out, whenever that is (it should be a while since it’s supposed to be twinned with Europe’s Kuga, which is still a pretty recent design), it will probably dominate since it will also have the benefit of being a fresh, appealing design.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      I think part of it is that it is a practical, old fashioned SUV design – square and upright. A lot of the new style crossovers – Rogue/Tucson look stylish, but the design compromises utility. Ford is discounting and sending to fleets for sure, but real people actually buy these things. Oh, and every politician has to have an Escape Hybrid, I think its in the Constitution.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      I’m a bit of a Ford Guy. I owned the first generation Escape. I recently test drove both the 4cyl and 6cyl Escapes. They can keep them. I found both to be really crude. The NVH, the feel of the door handles (like they were breaking off in my hand), etc., was awful. But so was the interior of the Fusion. Too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      The Escape’s simplicity is part of its appeal, though personally I find it crude. And I also prefer the more car-like (in appearance anyway) pre-2008 model.

      Personally I think the Fusion’s interior is pretty decent, just not best-in-class (that honor probably goes to the Mazda6 or the new Sonata)

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The 2008 redesign was pretty major, and the new engines and transmissions in 2009 really transformed the vehicle.

      A V6 Escape Limited is very nice inside, fairly quiet, has great visibility, and flies down the highway. The 4 cylinder models get great gas mileage and are very affordable. All of them drive comfortably, and have good space inside and comfortable seats even though they are compact CUVs.

      The Escape isn’t in any way a sports car, or an off-road powerhouse, but it doesn’t try to be. You could almost call the Escape the Camry of the CUV world – perfect for people who want an appliance-like CUV that they don’t have to worry about.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      some thoughts on why Escape competes well in the market

      – very good visability,this is commented on by many reviews. I noted as well when I drove one years ago. Its a very important feature to a lot of people. It not only makes a car safer to drive, its a lot more pleasant as well.

      – I understand that the split tail gate design is great if you have dogs, and much more useful than the side swinging gate of the Honda or Toyota

      –Boxy design provides a lot of useful room

      – CRV is funny looking

      –I assume you can get a 240 horse v6 Escape for the same price as a 4cyl Honda or Toyta, or you can go 4cyl Escape for a price leader. I am guessing here, I havent shoppped them.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      KMART shoppers = Ford Escape.
      Escape is sold as blue light special retail and fleet.

      Craptastic.

  • avatar
    50merc

    dwford, you’re right: the Escape’s advantage is that its shape is practical, square and upright. Like a wagon should be. I took a tape measure along when my wife and I were shopping for small SUVs/Crossovers. Both visibility and storage room suffer when a utility vehicle is given a fastback design and porthole-shaped hatch. Rogue and CR-V are wannabe coupes.

    Now, if Ford could just make that four-banger quieter…

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Buy one now. You know all the practicality will be gone once the Escape/Kuga comes out.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Funny, Escape seems to lag in space efficiency:
      http://automobiles.honda.com/tools/compare/results-overview.aspx?ModelName=CR-V&ModelYear=2010&AICGroupNum=5096&AICNum1=27761&LastState=%2Ftools%2Fcompare%2Fselect-competitor-custom.aspx%3FModelName%3DCR-V%26ModelYear%3D2010%26AICGroupNum%3D5096%26AICNum1%3D27761%26LastState%3D%26AICNum2%3D27109&AICNum2=27109&Filter=&Mode=&Photo=&Change=

      The Escape is cheap, but it’s expensive to own according to true cost analysis.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      Thornmark

      On space efficiency, this just says how many cubic feet are present via a precise measurement, doensnt describe usefulness unless you are loading with styrofoam pellets. That said, the CRV may in fact have more usable space, I dont know.

      On costs, everyone of those stupid “total cost to own” analyses assumes that the cars sell at MSRP when calculating depreciation costs. The Honda does sell at close to retail, the Escape doesnt. Or do you think people pay 24K for a 4cyl Escape?

  • avatar
    changsta

    I am pretty sure the Escape is selling because it is such a good deal! The base 4 banger with 16″ wheels and power windows/locks/sync goes for about $24,000 brand new here in Toronto. A base CR-V? Closer to $29,000. That is significantly more. Couple that with the fact that Ford is continually offering 0% financing (or close to it), and the Escape just makes sense financially.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    No chart here either, what’s up?

  • avatar

    Equinox/Terrain sales would have been higher if GM could build them faster.

    Escape numbers are very impressive.

    Toyota didn’t do well against such a low bar.

  • avatar
    Hanksingle

    How can one logically call a Sorento ‘compact’ – it’s a small house.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    You could sort of put the Dodge Caliber here. Isn’t “crossover” just an appearance thing anyway?

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Excepting the Escape, the real story here is that new models are doing well — Sorento, Equinox/Terrain and Rouge.

    This is one area where Honda got it right by not upsizing the CR-V to the point it needed a V6. Interestingly, Hyundai copied that idea with the Sonata, allowing them to keep the size/weight reasonable, while still having the largest cabin.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Locally, I see quite a few RAV 4’s often with a youngish female driver.

    A non-bib overalls wearing driver and without a wad of chaw in her craw, spitting the residue/debris out the winder’.

    Appears to be a “chick car” ’round these parts.

    Just an observation.

    Also noted is the high compliance with helmet requirement for motorcycles AND the high percentage of helmets with plastic face shields.

    Curious as to possible correlation betwixt local chaw chewin’ and spittin’

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    A rising tide lifts all boats. It’s incredible that pieces of hopeless dreck like the Jeep Compass, and the soon to be orphan Mariner, posted huge (on a percentage basis) sales gains. It’s almost like people will buy any crossover they can get their hands on (or maybe whichever dealer is close by who is offering the greatest incentives at a given moment).

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      My first thought when I saw the Compass numbers was “Who the hell are buying those?”. For the same money, at least the Patriot looks like a Jeep. Maybe the explanation is that Chrysler is putting big bucks on the hood of the Compass to unload them.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      I really do think the Jeep twins get a bad rap. The Patriot is the best looking out there by far. Really though I am sure many of these sales were to fleets. There are loads of what looks like base level Chrysler vehicles on the roads, and you can probably thank places like Enterprise for that.
      No matter, if I was in the market for one of these appliances I would for go for one of these vehicles based on price alone.
      In reality these two vehicles are really the same thing. So 5000 + comnbined sales isn’t bad whatsoever.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    The Kia Rondo is included, but not the Mazda5?

  • avatar
    drifter

    Good to see Subaru and Nissan sells 3-4x as VW

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    The Suzuki Grand Vitara wasn’t listed. It’s not based on a car, but are all these others based on cars?

    I recently had a ride in a new Escape Hybrid, both on highway and off-road. The interior definitely was a lot less fancy than our GV. But the Escape interior was entirely functional, and far better for hauling cargo than the GV. It was also somewhat smoother and quieter on the highway. Though perhaps not better than a newer GV. The Escape Hybrid gets admirable mileage. This was my first ride in a car with a CVT, and it definitely seems odd.

    “Off-road” consisted of a 3500′ climb on a ruined logging road. Going up, it worked just fine. Clearance was ok, other than frequently scraping the oversized front air dam they put on the hybrid model.

    Going down, however, was somewhat unusual. Unlike the GV, it has no low gear, and the CVT can’t engine brake slow enough to get down a long, steep and very rough road. Unfortunately the regenerative braking doesn’t activate unless the brakes are applied firmly. The risk is that to creep that far downhill while using the brakes below that threshold, will overheat the brakes. So the driver would let the thing gather speed beyond what was appropriate, then hit the brakes. The result was that our journey back to the lower regions was somewhat lurchy. But we did get down without damaging the underbody or overheating the brakes.

    Despite the resale value of the non-hybrid Escapes being dismal, I can fully understand why people buy them.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Resale on current body-style Escapes is actually pretty good, at least compared to most other small CUVs.

      As far as the regenerative braking goes, not sure what was going on with the one you were driving, but it engages even with light pressure on the brake pedal. In fact, one comment I hear from a lot of people after test driving the Escape hybrid is that the brakes seem ‘touchy’, the regenerative brakes come on fairly aggressively, so you get a lot of stopping power for a minor pedal effort, it takes a bit of time to learn how to control it.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Perhaps it depends on where you live. A year ago I did a comparison of asking prices for new cuv’s and asking prices of used ones. I used an average, to compensate for the various models. (I agree that is not as good as using actual selling prices.) Around where I live, the Escape and Forester retained their value the worst. CR-V and Rav4 were the best, and contrary to popular impressions, the GV did fairly well.

      My understanding from the Escape’s owner is that when you coast, the engine shuts off. He demonstrated on the battery charge gauge that regeneration did not take place under light braking. Maybe this can be tuned. He’s a German engineer, so who was I to argue?

  • avatar
    don1967

    How on earth did the Sorento and Outlander end up on this list of “compacts”, while the Santa Fe and Murano are considered “mid size”?

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, VW should be proud of their Tiguan sales. You know it’s bad when more Jeep Compasses were moved than Tiguans. If VW had a clue they’d be offering the 2.0 litre TDI in it and there would probably be one of them in my driveway. But unfortunately they remain clueless for the U.S. market. (Can’t wait to see how much the Chattanooga NMS will suck compared to a European Passat.)

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      +1

      You hit the nail on the head, VW is amazingly clueless when it comes to the U.S. market across their entire lineup. You’d think they’d borrow a quarter and buy a clue given their longstanding and continuing dismal sales performance.

    • 0 avatar
      Amendment X

      Yeah, what a freaking disaster…

      I remember how big of a deal VW made about the Tiguan at its launch. Now it is almost the worst selling SUV in the US. Amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      Oh come now, VW clueless? Wasn’t the Phaeton brilliant? Cough, choke, wheeze…

      Had they put those resources into federalizing the Polo for U.S. consumption, they would have done a lot better.

      The Tiguan suffers from being too small. Other than ground clearance, I don’t know what the upside is to a Tiguan over a 5-door Golf

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Phaeton was a brilliant car, and I applaud VW for having the balls to make it.

      Sales-wise though, and as a business decision, I agree with you, it was a huge failure, but as enthusiasts we should encourage such risks by automakers, or else all we get are boring Camcords.

  • avatar
    frozenman

    If VW offered the Tiguan in diesel they likely would not be able to crank them out fast enough, the Subaru Forester diesel will likely beat them to the marketplace and eat VW’s lunch. Maybe for potential owners motoring bliss this could be a good thing? Subaru/diesel/6spd manual……mmmm…..drool…..

  • avatar
    bufguy

    Where is the Honda Element?


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